To the editor:
Robert Baker, in his letter of Feb. 15, was far too modest in describing Housing and Credit Counseling Inc.’s (HCCI) help for the financially distressed; and, far too polite in characterizing the payday loan industry, including QC “Quik Cash” Holdings.
For nearly 37 years, HCCI has annually helped thousands buy homes, resolve debts and gain financial literacy.
Payday lenders, by contrast, have harvested millions of scarce dollars from the impecunious and propelled many into bankruptcy. They offer what consumer advocates typically describe as “legalized loan sharking,” charging interest from 391 percent to 441 percent (Congressional Research Service), rates 8-10 times higher than the 45 percent threshold used in defining federal criminal extortion.
Payday loans are so pernicious that Congress, notwithstanding full-throated industry opposition, limited rates charged military personnel to 36 percent, 10-12 times less than “normal” payday charges. Not surprisingly, the industry launched a campaign to deprive all Americans of this protection.
QC Holdings gave the last campaign of Congressman Moore, a member of the Financial Services Committee with payday lender oversight, $24,619 (Center for Responsive Government).
In Arizona, the industry spent $2 million in a failed attempt to inveigle public support for its confiscatory interest rates. So the payday lenders convinced the legislature to cap the rate at a modest 60 percent, six times lower than in Kansas. Notwithstanding the reduced rate, QC has 38 outlets in Arizona (QC Web site).
Kansas lawmakers should provide us the same protections against predatory lending that Congress gives our military.